My name is Lucy and I work at AlphaBiolabs as a Toxicology Analyst.
I started working here in August 2020, so I have been in the role for just 7 months. I have always had a huge interest in biology and chemistry and so this role fits me perfectly, as it enables me to develop my understanding of how analytes such as drugs can be extracted from biological specimens using analytical chemistry.
On a typical day, I am responsible for extracting a batch of hair or nail samples for either drug or alcohol analysis.
The samples are logged in and the hair is segmented to the required length to match the time frame that has been requested by the client.
My mornings fly by as I spend most of the time preparing the samples for extraction by washing, chopping and weighing them. Once I have done this, the samples are spiked with our internal standards, a solvent is added and they are placed into a heated incubator. It’s then usually time for lunch!
After lunch, the samples will have finished incubating and any drugs or alcohol present in the hair or nail samples will have transferred to the solvent. I then finish my extraction and prepare the LCMS instrument for analysis. The LCMS instrument is a machine that detects and quantifies any drugs present in each sample.
I finish off my working day by compiling a run list for the samples, which tells the instrument the order in which the samples are to be analysed and the position in the rack that I have placed each sample. Once I have done my final checks to make sure that the instrument is ready, I can start the run and let the LCMS do the rest of the work.
There are so many things I find interesting in this job and there is always something to do in the lab, so the days go really fast!
As well as scientific training, the role also requires problem solving, mathematical, team-working and critical thinking skills.
It is imperative that everybody in the lab collaborates closely to ensure that resources are available as needed. It is also important to plan and prioritise the workload and the various stages of the testing process each day.
I still have lots to learn and I am really excited at the prospect of building on my skills and knowledge during my career with AlphaBiolabs.